7. CHAPTER VII
The foregoing correspondence will sufficiently explain why no choice is left
to me but to pass over Lady Verinder's death with the simple announcement
of the fact which ends my fifth chapter.
Keeping myself for the future strictly within the limits of my own
personal experience, I have next to relate that a month elapsed from
the time of my aunt's decease before Rachel Verinder and I met again.
That meeting was the occasion of my spending a few days under the same
roof with her. In the course of my visit, something happened,
relative to her marriage-engagement with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite,
which is important enough to require special notice in these pages.
When this last of many painful family circumstances has been disclosed,
my task will be completed; for I shall then have told all that I know,
as an actual (and most unwilling) witness of events.
My aunt's remains were removed from London, and were buried
in the little cemetery attached to the church in her own park.
I was invited to the funeral with the rest of the family.
But it was impossible (with my religious views) to rouse myself
in a few days only from the shock which this death had caused me.
I was informed, moreover, that the rector of Frizinghall
was to read the service. Having myself in past times seen
this clerical castaway making one of the players at Lady
Verinder's whist-table, I doubt, even if I had been fit
to travel, whether I should have felt justified in attending
Lady Verinder's death left her daughter under the care of her
brother-in-law, Mr. Ablewhite the elder. He was appointed
guardian by the will, until his niece married, or came of age.
Under these circumstances, Mr. Godfrey informed his father,
I suppose, of the new relation in which he stood towards Rachel.
At any rate, in ten days from my aunt's death, the secret of
the marriage-engagement was no secret at all within the circle
of the family, and the grand question for Mr. Ablewhite senior--
another confirmed castaway!--was how to make himself and his authority
most agreeable to the wealthy young lady who was going to marry